The mandate of Uganda Police Force as provided in the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, and Uganda Police Force Act Cap 303, is protection of life and property, prevention and detection of crime, keeping law and order, and maintenance of overall Security and Public Safety in Uganda.
An Enlightened, Motivated, Community Oriented, Accountable and Modern Police Force; geared towards a crime free society
“To secure life and property in a committed and professional manner in partnership with the Public, in order to promote development”.
History of Uganda Police Force
Pre- colonial Policing and Justice Systems
Like in colonial days, the police force largely remains an authoritarian instrument of state control of the public, taming perceived opponents of the state and for enforcing law and public order.
Before the creation of the Uganda Police there was a traditional method of dispute resolution. Uganda then had four kingdoms: Buganda, Ankole, Bunyoro-Kitara and Toro.
There were also other organized areas like Busoga, Bugisu, Teso, Acholi and Lango, all of which had cultural norms and systems of social control. Every tribal community had its own social policing method based on customary rules and obligations.
The kings and elders policed the wide communities; the elders policed villages while men policed their families. The elderly in general were responsible for enforcing discipline among the youth.
Police is born
Crimes were defined by the respective tribal community according to their agreed cultural norms and values. Punitive measures for cases of indiscipline would be determined by a council of elders. When Uganda became a British protectorate in 1894, a judicial system based on the British common law was imposed with the backing of an armed police force.
Hence, the Uganda Police Force was first established as Uganda armed constabulary in 1899 with the main aim of maintaining public order. The recruitment procedures, organisation and training were based on the Royal Irish Constabulary mode of armed policing.
Recruitment was based on the basis of physical fitness and aggressive tendencies. Preferred qualities were people aged 17-25 years, height (not below 5 feet 6 inches) and a chest size (not less than 33 inches). Bravery and courage in the police work were judged according to the extent to which local resistance was suppressed, with little regard to force used in suppressing the resistance.
It was difficult for civilians to sue for any injuries incurred in the course of suppressing resistance. The colonial police were protected from persecution, since they were executing state functions. In 1906, the Uganda Armed Constabulary was renamed the Protectorate Police Force. The Protectorate Police was created on May 25, 1906 by the British government.
It was created in response to crime and administrative requirements of the colonial government. The force was also created to suppress rebellion against the colonial government policies. At the start of the early 1900s, there were clashes in several parts of the country, including the 1907 Nyangire rebellion in Bunyoro, protesting the colonial imposition of Baganda chiefs on Banyoro; opposition to the growth of cash crops like cotton in Ankole in early 1903; and the Lamogi rebellion in 1911 in northern Uganda.
The enactment in 1903 of the Uganda armed constabulary and the Uganda prisons ordinances establishef a civil police force and prison service , although the officer commanding troops remained responsible for the unit until 1906. In 1905, control of affairs of the Uganda protectorate was passed on from the hands of the foreign office to that of the colonial office. In 1906 a completely separate department came into exisistance, responsible for thr Uganda police a civil armed force.
In 1906 captain WFS Edwards DSO (later Brigadier General ) arrived in Uganda to take up the post of Inspector General of te Uganda protectorate police and that was the birth of the country’s modern police.
Edward set about organissing the police and by the end of 1908, the force, which was headquarted at Entebbe, had a clear system of administration , records, files and statistics and the year saw the introduction of the best system.
The police force initially included capacity of one officer, seven inspectors, one effendi, 118 non-commissioned officers and 848 police constables. Most of these were British, apart from the police constables who were largely Africans. By 1912, there were 15 police stations that each included a criminal investigations department (CID), signals unit, traffic unit and railway unit.
Following reorganization in 1907, the Uganda police 1,046 Africans ranking from Sgt majors (10) sergeants (36), corporals (40) detectives (3),first class constables (14), second class constables (98) and third class constables (813), one clerk, one Armourer and three interpreters.
At the end of 1961 and beginning of 1962, the first expatriate officers were permitted to leave the force, providing an opportunity for promotion and deployment of local officers to senior positions.
The end of the second war in 1945 and the established of the United Nations organization (UNO) in the same year created a new world order which self determination, especially on the African continent, become imperative. The 1960s effectively became the decade of African independence. As October 9, 1962 Independence Day drew near for Uganda, the country’s first African inspector general of police designate, Erinayo Wilson Oryema, had an ominous vision of things to come, which he shared with his officers.
Between 1930 and 1940, there were increased political pressures and rebellions against colonialism. Thus, the Police was involved in suppressing strikes, tax evasion, riots and rebellions in areas of Acholi, Kigezi, Buganda and Bugisu. The political agitations in the wake of the formation of political parties and agitations for independence created more problems for the Uganda Police.
Despite its weaknesses, most studies say that at the time of independence, Uganda had a small, effective and well motivated police force. Operational standards were high, police officers were also proud of serving in and being identified with the force, and the public appreciated their services.
In the early 1980s, there was recruitment of university graduates into the force. Most of these were trained in Munduli, Tanzania. There was also a “screening of dead wood”, dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
President Milton Obote’s second administration also started the National Security Agency (NASA), which took on the role of criminal investigation and in the process, sidelined the regular police.
During President Yoweri Museveni’s NRA bush war, many police stations were attacked and many officers killed. In 1986 when NRM took power, there was another screening that reduced the number of police officers from about 10,000 to 3,000.
The Special Forces, which had been loyal to Obote’s UPC government, was disbanded and replaced by the Mobile Police Patrol Unit. There was also more recruitment of university graduates as constables, which saw about 300 graduates join the force, reducing the number of semi-illiterate officers.
Thus, the mode of recruitment ceased to be about just physical fitness, but included consideration of intellectual abilities.